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14 posts from December 2009

Why dance around to the same damn song...

I told you I'd post it today, and I posted it today. Whether my RSS feed updates is outside my control. So for that I'm sorry.

But I welcome you to the 2009 Primetime TV Kappy Awards!

A few notes... these awards relate to shows as they aired in the 2009 calendar year (with one exception detailed below), not the traditional network television season, not the non-traditional cable television season, not nothing like that. Just what's going on. Coolness? 

First, the list of shows we've watched over the last year from which these awards are derived:

  • Mad Men
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Castle
  • Life
  • Life on Mars
  • The Closer
  • The Cleaner
  • The Office
  • Criminal Minds
  • Burn Notice
  • Psych
  • The Good Wife
  • NCIS: Los Angeles
  • 24
  • True Blood
  • Flashpoint
  • Chuck
  • My Boys
  • Royal Pains
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • NUMB3RS
  • Private Practice
  • White Collar
  • Men of a Certain Age
  • 30 Rock
  • Cougar Town
  • Modern Family
  • Gary Unmarried
  • Dexter
  • Damages
  • The Amazing Race (Fall 2009)
  • I think that's about it. God, I hope that's about it.

    Let's proceed...

    Acting Awards:
    • Best Dramatic Acting - Jon Hamm, "Don Draper," Mad Men
    • Best Comedic Acting - Jim Parsons, "Sheldon Cooper," The Big Bang Theory
    • Best Dramatic 1-2 Punch - Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, "Richard Castle and Kate Beckett," Castle - sure, this is borderline between drama and comedy, but you'll just have to accept that I'm using it as drama
    • Psychusa Best Comedic 1-2 Punch - James Roday and Dule Hill, "Shawn Spencer and Burton 'Gus' Guster," Psych (at right) - this one is more comedy than drama despite being a cop show like Castle
    • Best Dramatic Ensemble - Burn Notice - and, if you're smart, you're tuned in to the Burn Notice marathon on USA as I type this
    • Best Comedic Ensemble - The Big Bang Theory
    • Best Male Comeback - (tie) Nathan Fillion, "Richard Castle," Castle and Ed O'Neill, "Jay Pritchett," Modern Family
    • Best Female Comeback - Courtney Cox, "Jules Cobb," Cougar Town
    • Best One-Off Guest Role - Wil Wheaton, "Wil Wheaton," The Big Bang Theory
    • Dark Alley Award - Jimmy Smits, "Miguel Prado," Dexter - yeah, his run on the show aired in late 2008, but not being a Showtime subscriber, I didn't have it available to me until 2009; and he was just too bad ass to not have earned this designation
    Show Awards:
    • Best Drama - Castle
    • Best Comedy - The Big Bang Theory
    • Canceled Too Soon - (tie) Life on Mars and Life
    • Most Overstayed Welcome - The Cleaner - it was amazing how quickly this show went from really exciting and a great vehicle for Benjamin Bratt to a lot of the same old, same old... and then cancellation 
    • Lost in Left Field - Grey's Anatomy - this show needs to find its way and we keep hoping it will but it just adds too many new characters all the damn time in a pathetic attempt at self resuscitation and it consequently loses us
    • Where the Hell'd You Go - Flashpoint - this is simply because we love this show and we want it back
    • Most Surprising Show (in a Good Way) - Cougar Town - we started watching this not expecting much at all and darn if it doesn't make us laugh harder than many shows
    • Second Chancer - Modern Family - we watched the first two episodes and didn't really care too much for it; then, due to prompting from one of Katie's students, we started again about a month or so later and now we love it
    Network Awards:
    • Best Network - USA - c'mon! It has Burn Notice, Psych, Royal Pains and White Collar!
    • Worst Network - NBC - according to Katie, we have one night of television (Thursday) that we watch and they killed an entire primetime hour every night of the week for a Jay Leno variety show that couldn't possibly be any worse than it is, or could it?

    Would you counternominate any actors or shows in these categories? Please share!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    I always intend to do one of those year-end wrap-ups that so many other bloggers do so well, but I get so locked up in these awards I do that I forget.

    How about we talk about the actual day instead? So how'd you spend it?

    Katie and I did the same thing we like to do each year... wine, Chinese food, pajamas, and movies!

    Can it be any better?


    Checking it off my list, unable to rewrite...

    Yes, I do still have two Top lists to post and, including today, only two days before the New Year to post them. However, I really wanted to do another Snippet Wednesday. Plus, Katie and I are talking about seeing a movie (or two) on New Year's Eve and I'd like to give those movies a fair shake on the Top Films list. So that one will be on New Year's Day while the Top Shows will be tomorrow. Promise.

    Banking
    This bugs me. We are receiving bills for an urgent care visit for Katie from February and March of 2008. They’re claiming we never paid. Never mind the fact that it took them nearly two years to discover this supposed discrepancy, we did pay it. They say they’ll waive it if I can provide them with copies of the canceled checks. Due to that stupid federal law that passed some odd years ago, banks no longer have to send back canceled checks to us. So I checked our online account to find the digital images of the checks. I can only access back through August 2008. So I call my bank branch and they tell me they can look for it but it will take “research” as the information is “archived” and they may have to charge me for the research time. Isn’t that supposed to be the great thing about online banking is that your history is entirely digital and should be available at your fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Why would you archive digital information and make in inaccessible to the user? This makes no sense. Stupid banks.

    VeckatimestBear
    I was reading Marty’s top albums of 2009 list and I really like this one thing he did which I might try next year… he included lists of albums that he considered a letdown or that he just didn’t get. It’s a pretty cool concept considering how much hype some albums receive. And I completely agree with him on his assessment of Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest in this regard. I’ve listened to that album a ton of times and I just don’t get it. Why is it so highly regarded? What makes it so great? Why was it one of the top selling independent albums of the year? And the real kicker for me is that usually when I see a band live, I wind up gaining an appreciation of the album by hearing the songs up close and in person. I saw Grizzly Bear at Pitchfork and the live experience helped not at all.

    Bears
    Can someone tell me where the hell the Jay Cutler that we saw on Monday night against the Vikings has been all season long? Damn. Even though the Bears defense really started to stink things up a bit in the fourth quarter giving up 17 unanswered points and letting the Vikes tie it up, it was a very exciting game! This is something we haven’t really seen all season… save for the stinking things up bit. That was pretty much par for the course for the Bears this year.

    Book
    I cannot, for the life of me, find my Moleskin notebook. I’m pretty sure I’ve exhausted the places where it could possibly be located. Dammitalltohell. Why is it that when you don't need something, it's always there, but when you do need it, it's nowhere to be found? I wanted to do some writing and, of course, it’s nowhere to be seen. 

    Books
    The reason I’d like to find my Moleskin is because I have an idea for a book I’d like to write and I want it along for the ride. Maybe I should just buy a new one that would be dedicated to this endeavor. Actually, that probably would be a better idea since I have some ideas for illustrations that would accompany the text and an oversize Moleskin would be better for this project. Yes, it’s a children’s book. Anyone have contacts in the children’s book publishing industry?

    Bark
    Dog collar beer bottle opener? Greatest. Invention. Ever. Me wanty. Hey, do you guys need a blog reviewer? Drop me a line. E-mail addy's in the top menu bar.

    Time to head to work. Adios, peeps.


    He's makin' a list...

    I know, I know. Christmas is done... STOP USING CHRISTMAS CAROLS AS POST TITLES!!! I will make a concerted effort. I promise.

    Not all of you are Twitter users, I would presume, right? For those of you who are, you know that the most recent gauge of cyber-inclusiveness has nothing to do with your ability to avoid being dealt the Facebook deathcard known as unfriending (I'm still in shock as to how this got "Word of the Year" accolades... whatever). It's all about being added to someone's Twitter List these days.

    Since I'm still working on my Top TV Shows and Top Movies lists for this year, I thought I'd spend a day discussing another Top measure that happens to come in the form of Lists: all the Twitter Lists I belong to.

    Sure, this is completely me tooting my own horn, I admit. But it sounds like fun.

    Currently, I've been "Listed" 19 times by various folks. And I want to point out a few of them real quick.

     
    List-foiledcupcakes
    While I'd like to be able to say that this is as dirty as it could be perceived by gutter-minded individuals such as myself, it sadly is not. She actually runs a Web-based cupcake company in the Chicago suburbs. Bummer.

    List-hismuse
    I have always thought of myself as delightfully perverted. I'm proud knowing that my efforts were noticed by you, @hismuse! Thanks.
     
    List-karlerikson 
    I'd really hate to see his wish-dead list. I'm afraid to look and see if there actually is one.

    List-monamildew
    Well, we'll just have to work on that one, won't we?

    List-neilochka
    @neilochka, I would definitely sit there and hold your hand through this ordeal... from the other side of the bars. Feel free to call me. Just don't expect bail money.

    List-mightyhunter
    While I love being on his cool-mfers list, I think he and I should both create a list called cool-bald-mfers and be the charter members!

    List-avitable
    This is the ultimate sign of cyber acceptance, IMHO. @avitable is looking pretty damn hot these days and with his increased fitness level, I would assume comes an increased capability level in the sack, right big guy?

    Can you tell I'm really reaching for blog fodder right now? I'd make a New Year's Resolution that I will come up with higher quality posts and maybe post more often, but I can't guarantee that the Angel of Inspiration will bind herself to that resolution.

    So how was your Christmas this year? Big haul? Small haul?

    I'm happy with how it turned out. Several books, some giftcards and cash to buy some new appliances in the kitchen, a copy of Rock Band: Beatles for the Wii (no drumkit, sorry), and, from Katie, a Blackhawks jersey (to be worn at the Blackhawks game for which the two BiLs and the FSiL got us tickets) and a copy of the Monty Python's Flying Circus 16-disc box set, among other things. That's pretty sweet! I can't wait to start watching it. I got Katie a few things including a really pretty garnet necklace. She seemed happy. I guess that's all that counts.

    And, in case you're interested, here are some photos from the various Christmas celebrations we attended this year (Facebookers, click through).

    But one of my favorite photos of the evening was just a little experimental picture I snapped. Not that it's a true mystery photo like the ones I used to post. Heck it should be easily identifiable. But it's just a different point of view on it. Let me know if you figure out what it is.

    Apgar Christmas


    Everybody's singin', all the bells are ringing out...

    Hey all, Merry Christmas!

    Yes, I said it. I opted for political incorrectness and y'all are just gonna have to deal with it. Heh.

    I just wanted to quickly share one gift that we exchanged. This was with some of the cousins on Katie's mom's side of the family. In lieu of regular, paid-for, what-retailers-are-begging-for gifts, we decided to make mix CDs of music we enjoy for everybody else. No, we're not making mix discs of music the recipient would like. These are of music we like in order to potentially introduce the recipient to new stuff.

    Sounds like it should be pretty cool. Especially being the music fiend I am, right?

    Not so. I hate making mix albums. I was dreading this. I remember the John Cusack character (Rob Gordon) in High Fidelity describing all the work he puts into the creation of a mix tape and similar information is shared by Rob Sheffield in his book Love is a Mix Tape. And, based solely on this input, I've been scared off of ever making mixes. Stuff like the delicate mix between soft and fast music, the blending of the end of one track into the beginning of the next, etc. I'm a perfectionist and, if I can't do something right, I don't want to do it at all. That's just how I am. 

    However, after making the actual exchange yesterday, I feel much better about it. Everyone was really excited checking out the mixes that we all put together. Then, with those couple of people that forgot to include a tracklist, we threw the discs in a stereo and played "Name that Song." It was really fun despite my earlier dread. And Katie and I are kinda hoping we do it again next year. Heck, she's already planning out what she wants to do for hers.

    But here are the albums we put together. Let me know what you think.

    First, the covers. The covers are basically a photo of us die cut on top of a wallpaper of the album art for the songs contained on the disc. Disc one on the left is the disc in Katie's name and disc two is the one from me.

    The KA2 Xmas Mixes

    And now for the music...

    Disc 1 (Katie's mix):

    • The Smiths - "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want"
    • Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson - "Relator"
    • Rascal Flatts - "Life is a Highway" - she was worried about this fitting in, but it actually sounds decent, I think
    • She & Him - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"
    • Dave Matthews Band - "Why I Am"
    • Weezer - "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To"
    • Scissor Sisters - "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'"
    • Katy Perry - "Hot n Cold"
    • Doves - "There Goes the Fear"
    • Norah Jones - "Chasing Pirates"
    • Imani Coppola - "Legend of a Cowgirl"
    • Lady Gaga - "The Fame"
    • Phoenix - "Rome"
    • I Fight Dragons - "Heads Up, Hearts Down"
    • The All-American Rejects - "Gives You Hell"
    • 30 Seconds to Mars - "This is War"
    • Paramore - "Ignorance"
    • Pearl Jam - "Just Breathe"

    Disc 2 (my mix):

    • The Flaming Lips - "Race for the Prize"
    • Matt & Kim - "Lessons Learned"
    • Pomplamoose - "Beat the Horse"
    • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "The Tenure Itch"
    • The Republic Tigers - "Buildings & Mountains"
    • Blitzen Trapper - "Gold for Bread"
    • Stardeath and White Dwarfs - "New Heat"
    • The Mooney Suzuki - "Alive & Amplified"
    • Tokyo Police Club - "Tesselate"
    • Razorlight - "America"
    • Phoenix - "Lasso"
    • Silverchair - "Straight Lines"
    • Wolfmother - "New Moon Rising"
    • Damone - "Out Here All Night"
    • Foo Fighters - "Wheels"
    • Bear in Heaven - "You Do You"
    • Modest Mouse - "Guilty Cocker Spaniel"
    • Dungen - "Du ar for Fin for Mig"

    I was expecting most people to not know a majority of the stuff on my disc. I relish the thought of it being a musical expedition of sorts.

    LemonadeAlice at Beyond Alice and Through the Looking Glass has bequeathed unto me the Lemonade Award, or at least that's what I think it's called. Might have something to do with being able to turn lemons into lemonade via your blog posting or maybe it has more to do with having posts that grate on your nerves like a sour lemon. Meh, I'll take it either way. Thanks Alice!

    And now for the rules...

    • Put the Lemonade logo on your blog or within your post.
    • Nominate at least 10 blogs with great attitude or gratitude.
    • Link the nominees within your post.
    • Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
    • Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

    Well, let's see what I can cobble together here. Mind you, these are just 10 of the many blogs I read and love every day. So, if you're not included, it's not from a lack of love. Trust me on that one.

    Oh, and as for the fourth bullet, I may or may not get around to that right away. We all know my piss-poor commenting of late.

    Merry Christmas to all my lemonheads out there!

    Well, I'm outta here. Talk atcha soon.


    Could you go and run into me...

    I don't know why this year was such a tough one from which to cull a top-ten album list.

    Oh wait, yes, I do know. It's the fault of that damn Amazon MP3 store and all the discounts and freebies they offer. I've discovered that about 2/3 of the music in my iTunes player actually was purchased or ripped this calendar year and a disproportionate amount of it came from Amazon... I bless and curse you!

    Anyway.

    I pared my list down from about 2,100 songs released this year to just 10 albums, and it was a bitch to say the least. So without further ado, I present you with the Kapgar Top 10 Albums of 2009 starting from the bottom of the list and moving to the top. So, um, that means the bottom of the list will show up at the top and the top of the list shows up at the bottom and, well, screw it. If you don't get it...

    Oh, and "Track It" is just my cutesy way of recommending a single track on the album. Just click one of the album links at the top of the listing and you can go to either Amazon or iTunes to listen to the "Track It" single.

    10. Flo Rida - R.O.O.T.S. (Route Of Overcoming The Struggle) - Amazon | iTunes
    It took about three months before I finally discovered that first album of 2009 that moved me and that album was R.O.O.T.S. This marked my first time listening to Flo Rida even though I'd heard of him long before this album was released. I do believe I made the jump due to some deal on Amazon that was just too good to pass up. I'm glad I jumped.
    Track It - "Be On You" featuring Ne-Yo

    9. The Flaming Lips - Embryonic - Amazon | iTunes
    For a second there, I was almost afraid that my favorite live act of the year wasn't going to make the top album list. I might have actually felt bad about it, but this is a strange album even by Lips standards. It's a very moody, binaural cacophony of experimental noise that really allows the musicianship of Michael Ivins, Steven Drozd, and Kliph Scurlock to shine.
    Track It - "Silver Trembling Hands"

    8. Pearl Jam - Backspacer - No longer available in Amazon's MP3 Store | iTunes
    I remember reading another review of this album that said something along the lines of how Backspacer is the first album in years to come from Pearl Jam where they actually sound like they enjoy writing music again. I'd have to agree. This is one of the most upbeat works to come from PJ in years and my favorite since Vitalogy.
    Track It - "Johnny Guitar"

    7. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Amazon | iTunes
    I have a lot of trouble describing this album to people or comparing it to anything else. It was recommended to me by the music editors at Amazon and I've loved it ever since. Simply put, you should just give a listen to this NYC outfit.
    Track It - "The Tenure Itch"

    6. Pomplamoose - Pomplamoose Videosongs - Amazon | iTunes
    I do believe it was my buddy, Iron Fist, who guided this parched horse to the water that is Pomplamoose. They are an NYC duo, she the vocals and he the multi-instrumentalist. They've firmly lodged their foot in the YouTube door with interesting spins on Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies" and Michael Jackson's "Beat It," but this eight-track EP proves that they are not just cover wonders. How did an EP make a top album list? Well, when your eight tracks constitute a much more solid overall album than most others, why the heck not?
    Track It - "Beat the Horse"

    5. Stardeath and White Dwarfs - The Birth - Amazon | iTunes
    In a case of the student besting the teacher, Stardeath and White Dwarfs, consisting of members of The Flaming Lips' road crew and Wayne Coyne's own nephew, have put together one of my favorite pieces of eclectica (not a word... yet) that I've heard in some time. It's a fun mix of sounds and vocals and I really hope to hear how they sound live. And, yes, I did spell it right. They call themselves "Dwarfs" not "Dwarves." Merriam and Webster are rolling in their graves.
    Track It - "New Heat"

    4. Matt & Kim - Grand - Amazon | iTunes
    Special Note: this album is only $5 through the end of December 2009!
    Punk is a misunderstood genre anymore. Many artists claim to be punk who clearly are not. Matt and Kim claim to be punk and, thankfully, are. They are a New York duo (geez, what the hell is it with NYC this year???) who were classmates in college and decided to start a band, learning their instruments on the fly. They learned quick and so are we as fans. In their few short years of existence, they've rocked the stages at Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot, and Pitchfork just to name a few. Sadly, I missed out on their Pitchfork performance. I didn't get tickets for that day. Dammitalltohell! I will not make that mistake again.
    Track It - "Lessons Learned"

    3. Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3 - Amazon | iTunes
    If my recollection is correct, I listened to this album straight through something like three times consecutively. I'm sorry, but Jay-Z knows how to write a damn fine album and bring into the studio a laundry list of artists to perform with him including Pharrell, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Kid Cudi and many more.
    Track It - "Empire State of Mind" with Alicia Keys

    2. Modest Mouse - No One's First and You're Next - Amazon | iTunes
    This EP was only meant to be a way to placate fans until their next full-length album due out in 2010 (I hope) and it has become, in my opinion, one of their better collections of works. The buzz kicked in with "The Whale Song," the video for which was conceived by the late actor and video director Heath Ledger. It continued with the band actually bringing his vision to life with the help of Monty Pythoner Terry Gilliam. It's a fantastic video and an even better album.
    Track It - "Guilty Cocker Spaniel"

    1. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - Amazon | iTunes
    Phoenix For the longest time, this album was one that I kept returning to, listening over and over again. Then the songs started showing up in multiple TV shows and on commercials and, I think, even on Muzak. Usually, this equates to musical death for me. Somehow, though, that didn't happen here. Sure, my listening slowed down a bit, but it picked right back up after introducing my wife to them and discovering that they were one of the acts performing at XRT's Big Holiday Concert (even though it turned out to only be a five-song set due to a family emergency with their drummer back home in France). And I'm still listening and turning more and more people on to them. I love it. The album is just damn good electronic-rock and picking out a single song to recommend is not easy, but here goes...
    Track It - "Lasso"

    Well, that's all she wrote. Sure, there are a bunch of albums I never had the chance to listen to this year. It's tough on a limited budget, but I try.


    The gift you gave is gonna last forever...

    I know that there are some of you who actually look forward to Snippet Wednesday. And I've kinda left you hangin' the last coupla weeks. Last week it was an unfinished Snippet Wednesday due to Katie's crash. Yesterday, I just plain ran out of time.

    So I'm gonna make it up to you with a special edition Snippet Thursday: The Reckoning!

    Still love me?

    Katie
    Tomorrow marks Katie's official final day of student teaching. However, she got her grade for student teaching as well as her portfolio yesterday. As on both! That means she is graduating with a 4.0! I'm ridiculously proud of her! Mah baybee gotz intelluhjints!

    Taste
    My IT Director at work was in my office for a meeting yesterday when he looked on my cubicle cabinet and saw a promo card for the release of The Flaming Lips new album. This led to a discussion about music. Turns out:

    • My IT Director loves The Flaming Lips.
    • My IT Director loves Pete Yorn.
    • My IT Director loves Bob Mould and Hüsker Dü.
    • My IT Director loves The Replacements.
    • My IT Director loves Tom Petty.

    Clearly, my IT Director rawks.

    Digital
    Basterds I went to Best Buy yesterday to look into how much copies of The Hangover and Inglourious Basterds were on DVD. I also was curious if they came with digital copies. Both do. But, thanks to Ren's recent warning, I began to read the small print. Expirys were not a concern, thankfully. But compatibility was. Basterds is fine, but Hangover is neither Macintosh nor iPod/iTunes/iPhone compatible. Why in the name of Christ would a distribution company not want their product to work on the top-selling digital player of all time? Sure, I can probably rip and convert it without a problem (I do have Handbrake and iSquint and all those other cool little apps), but just loading the digital copy is so much easier. 

    Inglourious Basterds digital copy? WIN!

    The Hangover digital copy? EPIC FAIL!

    Oh, and I alerted some customers and employees to this fact as well. They were dumbfounded by the stupidity of it all.

    Blu-Ray
    I actually have a Blu-Ray disc. My very first Blu-Ray disc. I don't own a Blu-Ray player, but I have a disc for when that day does come. I don't know how many of you subscribe to e-newsletters from restaurants and whatnot. Well, I do. And I get all kinds of free birthday shit as a result. Usually they amount to free desserts or, if I'm lucky, free entrees.

    I got über lucky this year thanks to Disney who offered me a free Blu-Ray disc for my birthday. Say whaaaa? Of course I could only choose from a list of five movies. But it's free. So who cares? I chose Enchanted. Hey, Katie and I enjoyed that movie. And it's got Amy Adams. Can't go wrong with Amy Adams. Both my wife and Sizzle know of my obsession with her very well.

    Gift
    I think I've finally figured out what I'm going to get for Katie for Christmas. I usually have her gift done by now. This, I believe, is the latest I've waited to buy something. I just want to do a little research first before I actually buy it. There's no way in the name of all that's holy that she'll be expecting this. Not one iota of a chance.

    Fox
    I had a plan last week to write up a big glowing review of a movie Katie and I went to see, Fantastic Mr. Fox. I had it all pre-written in my head and was sitting down to type when I decided, instead, to read through my subscriptions in Google Reader. This was when I noticed Avitable had done the same thing and pretty much had the exact same opinion of the movie as Katie and I. So, if you'd like to read about a fantastic film, sure to be one of my tops of the year, head over to Av's digs and read up

    Medley
    This is simply too cool.

    Well, adios for now.


    Back to that same old place...

    I received an e-mail last Friday that the Capture My Chicago photo book had been shipped and, contained in the e-mail, was the list of photos and photographers that were featured in it.

    The book came in on Saturday and I started going through it just to confirm that I had read the e-mail correctly.

    Mine was not one of them.

    I'm upset by this fact. I'll admit it. I really thought I had a pretty good shot.

    Then I looked at the photos that did make it in the book and suddenly I feel like I am truly an amateur photographer by comparison. Jesus, these are some great pictures!

    I'm still happy I participated and that I bought the book (I think my shots did make it in the included DVD - I think all submitted photos made the DVD) and I will participate again should CBS hold another contest, and I hope they do.

    I just gotta work on my "skillz." Why? 'Cause I'm gonna be in that damn book next year, come hell or high water.

    The damnable thing is that, hindsight being 20/20, I have a photo that I'm pretty convinced may have made the book... but I completely forgot to submit it.

    s&*tf%^kd@#n!

    There goes the Tourette's again. I really need to have that checked out.

    Katie had to visit the Aurora Police Department on Friday to finish the police report on her collision. She had been in contact with me during the day regarding how to get there and whatnot and the following transpired via e-mail. For the record, she was convincing herself that she was going to be thrown in jail for causing an accident. Just setting the story a bit for you...

    Me: Good luck at the APD.

    Katie: I'll call you once I am done at APD... it will be my one phone call though... so you need to come and get me:)

    Me: What if we don’t have enough money to cover your bail? Should I sell some of our belongings or just leave you in there?

    Katie: You would leave me there? Sell the @#%$ing belongings! I feel the love!

    I love my wife. She cracks me up.


    Tell everybody, waitin' for Superman...

    PhotoStrip-XRTBHC-sm...that his name is Lin Brehmer and he's the morning host on WXRT 93.1 FM Chicago.

    Actually, he was Thor, if the puffy muscle shirt he wore as one of the emcees of last night's XRT Big Holiday Concert was any indication.

    Yes, last night was my third concert of the year and my second one involving The Flaming Lips. Two shows and absolutely no letdown whatsoever from one to the next.

    I got to the show a little early and was able to snag a spot on the floor not too far at all from the stage right in the midst of the pit and surrounded by a bunch of kids. I still don't know if it made me feel younger by association or old and creepy. The jury's out.

    Anyway, the show opened with some local band called, I think, the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra. Not bad.

    Pete Yorn was next and he just rocked out. I've been a Pete Yorn fan since the release of his first album back in 2000, I believe. But this was my first time seeing him live. He performed a variety of songs over the course of about 45 minutes or so and even included solo versions of two of what I consider his best songs from Break Up ("Blackie's Dead" and "Relater"), his duets album with Scarlett Johannson (the video is at this link). He also did a pretty cool medley of Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" and his own "Don't Wanna Cry" from Back & Fourth.

    Before Phoenix took the stage, we were informed that their drummer had a family emergency and, instead of canceling their portion of the show, they would do a stripped-down, four-man acoustic set. The set was only five songs long, but I enjoyed it. And I do not agree with the article making it sound like everyone was booing. Sure there was a little, but I think people for the most part, got behind the idea that they were about to see something that few others would ever see. At least they got "Lisztomania" and "1901" in there. 

    Then it was time for The Lips. God I love Wayne Coyne and the band. Much like their performance at Pitchfork 2009, they had the domed light background that served as a video screen showing accompanying images for the songs. And, at the beginning, it was again used to great effect for the band's vaginal emergence sequence.

    I think what I love most about The Flaming Lips live show is that Wayne Coyne seems to truly appreciate his fans. He strikes me as genuinely humbled knowing that all these people are there watching him and his band play. The Lips are not one of the most well-known bands in the world. In fact, many of the people to whom I told I was going to this show just gave me a funny look like "who?" But this place was packed last night and everyone was completely into it. I don't know how you can't be. The music, the energy, the pageantry of it all. It's almost as though Wayne needs our shared energy to maintain his lifeforce. So he gives us the show we want in exchange for the fuel he needs to keep going. That's the best way I can think to describe it. And it affects you deeply. One of my Tweeps, @CityGirl912, was there as a result of winning a free ticket. She'd never been before and had no idea what to expect. 

    CityGirl912Tweet 

    Hmmm. Think she liked it?

    I guess you could argue The Lips following is almost cult-like. If that's the case, gimme the damn Kool-Aid. I'll drink it. Hell, one of my photos from the show is even my new blog banner... my green alien buddy.

    I did manage to sneak in a camera to take some photos (only a handful of which turned out decently). But I also used it to capture some video of Pete Yorn's "Hungry Heart" / "Don't Wanna Cry" medley, Phoenix's acoustic "1901," and The Lips' vaginal emergence and Wayne's gerbil ball. I'm hoping to take a little time to edit it all together nicely if y'all don't mind a little wait.

    In the meantime, I've got a photo gallery and The Lips' setlist below (as of right now, no one had submitted the setlists for Phoenix or Pete Yorn, bummer).

    [Facebook-ites, click through to be able to see the photos]

    The Flaming Lips setlist


    It's all chemistry of a car crash...

    I had a plan for Snippet Wednesday yesterday. I even had a post half written. But stuff happened. Stuff that took precedence over worrying about a blog post.

    If you saw my notes on Twitter and Facebook yesterday afternoon, you know Katie was in a fender bender on our wonderfully snowy and slick Illinois roadway system. She called me at work and told me. Being as panicked as she was over the accident, there was no way to know how bad it was so I simply up and left immediately to be with her.

    Thankfully it wasn't bad at all. She lost control on ice and was doing everything that they teach you in driving safety classes to regain control. No dice. She skidded very slowly into a CRV and left a streak mark along his passenger door. Something that pretty much just buffs out. No structural damage to the other car whatsoever. Katie has a minor dent above the wheel well on her front driver side. It's minimal at best, but since the fiberglass did buckle, I'm sure the entire quarter panel will need replacing. Not like the old days when it could just be hammered back in place.

    The biggest thing for me is that Katie's not hurt. Neither is the other guy or his wife. Katie was just in a bit of shock over the whole thing. She was also really upset with herself even though she did everything she could have. Just sometimes Mother Nature and fate don't want to work our way.

    I wish I could relate to how she feels about it. I've been in two car crashes in my time, but I wasn't the driver in one and I have episodic amnesia to this day about the other one.

    The first was a football team trip to Great America in Gurnee, IL. I was in the backseat and we were in stop-and-go traffic. The driver looked away at his radio and missed that the car in front of us stopped. He hit his brakes but it was too late. We rearended the other car. The cool thing was that, you know how when there is a crash or a loud sound, you instinctively shut your eyes? I didn't. I saw the whole thing happen in a pseudo slow motion. The front end of his car rippled and then buckled and shredded apart. It was the most amazing thing to see. And I can still see it step by step in my mind's eye.

    The second, for which I have episodic amnesia, apparently goes something like this (according to the police report)... I was driving down a road in bright daylight on a perfectly dry and warm day. I had balloons in my car for my then-girlfriend's birthday. The balloons probably blew into my face because my window was open. I swiped them away but my hand hooked the steering wheel and pulled me off the side of the road into a 15-odd foot ditch. The car was still moving, but I hit a mound where a drainage pipe cut into the ditch and my car flipped up on its front end and continued on to the back. It then finished its roll down the hill another 180 degrees so when I was found, the car was on all four wheels, but the roof was crushed in and the engine compartment was all kinds of FUBAR. At the scene of the accident, in the ambulanace, and at the hospital, I was supposedly conscious the entire time. Police took a report I don't remember giving, EMTs talked to me, doctors checked me out, friends and family visited. I got nothing until many hours later when I remember waking up. About this same time is when everyone said I stopped constantly repeating myself and seemed more like the normal "me."

    Glad I don't remember that one.


    I'll rush for forty yards and drink four forties later on...

    Sure, the Bears won yesterday, but it was a bad win. Against a team that they should've decimated.

    But some good things did come of it...

    I got a new Bears jersey (Payton #34), a long-sleeve Bears T-shirt, and some other gameday gear from Katie as the rest of my birthday present. I LOVE 'EM!

    I discovered both my camera and camera bag are kosher within the new NFL bags-in-stadiums policy.

    I found out that the fact I had three Guinnesses (Guinni?) before 11 a.m. is absolutely fine when attendance at a football game is part the equation.

    I used my first ever hand warming packet and loved it.

    I learned it is possible to miss an entire quarter of football while waiting to pee.

    I discovered that even a bad win is fun when the ticket is free.

    I found that when you're a big guy walking around with two other big guys (north of 6'3"), you wind up with a lot of people asking if you're willing to take over on the offensive line for the Bears.

    I learned that photography at football games is much more fun with a good lens.

    Good times. Good times.

    A big congratulations to my brother-in-law Scott and his new fiancee Becca. They got engaged on my birthday.

    While I'm happy for them, my birthday's still way cooler.


    Devilman, devilman...

    From time to time, I find myself amused by the images that Google News chooses to use to accompany news stories. I know it's probably some complex algorithm that picks the image based on metadata incorporated into the image, blah blah.

    If that's the case, explain to me what the hell metadata was embedded into this image to make it algorithmically associated to an article about Microsoft's Bing search engine?

    JackoBing1
    Click image to excite it

    I can only guess (and shudder) at what the "5 Turning Points" are based on the image.

    I went back into Google News five hours later and found this...

    JackoBing2
    Again, click the image to give it a thrill

    Seriously, is Google trying to create a mental image of Microsoft as a bunch of crotch-grabbing child molesters? I knew Windows was evil, but this?

    I was on Goodreads last night and I entered a bunch of contests for free books. It had been a while since I entered any, so why not?

    One of the books was a comedy about a road trip (I think), another about a woman trying to bring to light in America the problems in Darfur, a third was about a female photojournalist in Vietnam. The fourth I entered -- just for kicks -- is about a woman's voyage of self-discovery... in the world of BDSM.

    Guess which one I'm probably gonna win?

    Oy.


    Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak...

    ...somewhere in this town. Tonight there's gonna be trouble, so don't you be around.

    And that trouble is Snippet Wednesday!

    Dodging
    Tonight is the playoffs for this season of dodgeball and I think, afterwards, I'm officially quitting the sport. It's just not as much fun as it once was and the novelty certainly wore off quickly. Plus, having a bunch of adults slinging barbs and calling each other a bunch of effin' liars in a league that runs on the honor system just sucks. I'm done. God I hope my buddy starts a sand volleyball league again this summer. Been too long.

    Funkalicious
    Katie got me an early birthday present this year and I'm just as happy as can be about it. The funny thing is it's only a sweatshirt. But it's singularly the coolest sweatshirt in the known universe. It's called Funkalicious from Threadless. I saw this design for the first time at the Threadless booth at Pitchfork and fell in love. I was planning to go back later and get it but I got so stuck in the masses of people awaiting the Lips show that, if I left, I never would've gotten my place back. And Threadless only recently started reprinting this design on hoodies (I didn't want it on a t-shirt). But now my boom-boxin' astronaut is rockin' it on my chest!

    Sweatshirt 2

    Stats
    For some reason, this morning I decided to look at my all-time stats just to see how things have changed. Right now, I'm lucky to break 100 hits a day. But there was actually a time when I had 943 views in a single day. So I drilled down to find the date... June 4, 2007... yeah, the day when Dave guest posted for me while I was in Las Vegas. And, in the comments is Kim stating how this is probably going to be my best statistical post ever. How right she was. I find stuff like that funny. But it was a brilliant post by Dave. No question. Slappin' the salami!

    Flair
    Remember the 80s when we owned jean jackets with buttons and patches all over them? Do you still do that at all? Decorate something with flair, that is? I think my camera bag is slowly becoming that flair canvas for me. I've got a few buttons and pins and a Rwandan beehive keychain (craft thing I got from Starbucks) and I want to sew on some patches that I dug up at home from a friend who was in the military (Airborne patch and unit insignia). It's not ridiculous looking and I'm sure I'll stop before it gets bad. But it's kinda fun. Takes me back. But in a controlled manner.

    Camera Bag Flair

    Mars
    I've been watching the BBC version of Life on Mars, season 1, since they finally made it available and, like many of you told me, it is good. In some aspects better than the U.S. version I so dearly love. But, in other aspects, not as good. I'm not sure if it's simply because it's a DVD version, but the BBC version is far more risque. The stories are really cool and they don't delve as far into Sam's "visions" as the U.S. version (no lunar rovers yet; but that little girl and her clown doll are weirding me out). While I still really like Jason O'Mara in the U.S. version, Jon Simm is starting to grow on me. I'm kinda torn between the U.S. and U.K. when it comes to Annie, Gene, and Chris, in all honesty. But, the biggest difference to me is the character of Ray carling. The BBC Ray is just lacking a lot of the gusto and bravado brought to the role in the U.S. by Michael Imperioli. I think Imperioli and his 'stache rock that role like no other. I'm also hoping the story with Sam's mom and his younger self builds up a lot more like it did in the U.S. version. There's still time. Any other opinions? Bear in mind, I'm only six episodes into season one. There are two eps left and then I've got season two to watch.


    I pulled into town in a police car...

    Sometimes the need to flip someone off from your car or honk the horn just needs to be stifled... as painful as it may be to do so.

    On the way to work, I was turning at a three-way intersection (I was turning from the road that dead ended into the T formed by the other road). Since no one else was coming from either direction, I was perfectly legal in my turn.

    However, once I got through it, I noticed there was a cop car pulled over on the side about 20 feet up from the intersection. As I pulled through the turn and was righting myself to straighten out, he starts pulling off the shoulder... right into me.

    I quickly pulled into the oncoming lane and hit my brakes before we collided. The cop stopped too and waved an apology. But I SOOOOOO wanted to flip him off. Anybody else and you can bet they'd be doing a sit and spin on the top of my fist.

    ARGH!

    But I guess all bad things can be made good, though.

    How?

    Pomegranate Tootsie Pops! FTW * !

    Pomegranate Tootsie Pop
    Also available on Twitpic.

    * That's For The Win, in case you didn't know.